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Mystery of missing businesswoman in Sh17b oil import deal

A photo of business lady Anne Njeri Njoroge who had imported 100,000 metric tonnes of oil diesel worth Sh17 billion. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

A major controversy has erupted following the disappearance of a Kenyan businesswoman moments after she obtained court orders to stop some oil marketers from offloading 100,000 metric tonnes worth about Sh17 billion.

The businesswoman at the heart of the saga, Ann Njeri Njoroge of Ann’s Import and Exports, is said to have reported to the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters on Kiambu Road in Nairobi on Thursday to record a statement over the ownership of the oil sourced Turkey. 

One of her lawyers, Cliff Ombeta, said Njeri’s family could not trace her. They said the DCI officers said she left the station after recording her statement.

“Her phone is off and no one can trace her. The officers say they don’t know anything about her. 24 hours later Njeri has not been presented before any court,” said Ombeta.

Two companies Galana Energies Ltd and Aramco Trading Fujairah have laid claim to the 100,000 metric tons of the said diesel.

Njeri filed a case at the Mombasa High Court on October 8 and successfully stopped the Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya Pipeline from offloading the diesel.

Big deals

Justice Magare Kizito barred the vessel from leaving the port and also stopped the discharging and offloading of the oil. The court directed KPA, KPC and Galana to file responses in 48 hours. 

Ombeta said Njeri had imported the diesel with her Israel partner from Turkey and passed through the port of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

He said that Njeri’s phone had been switched off and the DCI had denied having her in their custody despite statements showing she had recorded a statement with them.

Ombeta said lawyer David Chumo who accompanied her to the DCI headquarters confirmed they left her with investigation officers.

“So how can they deny they don’t know where she is?” said Ombeta. He said the authorities and the two companies have been questioning where Njeri got the money to import diesel worth such a colossal sum.

“Njeri imported 100,000 metric tons of diesel worth Sh17 billion which was to be sold to any party that was willing to buy from her. She is aware of the rules of how you can import fuel when it is Government to Government and had found few individuals who tried to help her since she has no import permit,” said Ombeta.

The lawyer said Njeri has been in the import and export business of fuel for the past 33 years and she has a good credit record with her financiers.

He said that the ship was docked at the high seas and was waiting for Njeri to source for a buyer in Kenya since she had no import license.

“All the ports she passed show she paid the insurance. So who is Aramco and where did they appear from to claim the fuel yet they have no paper trail,” said Ombeta.

Licensed importers

He said on November 4, Njeri was informed that the ship had docked at port yet she had not authorised it to dock in Kenya.

Ombeta said Njeri reported the matter to port police and was given an OB number, and two days later, she was told that Galana and Aramco were claiming ownership of the fuel.

In their response, Galana Chief Executive Officer Anthony Munyasya said they are licensed by the Energy Petroleum and Regulatory Authority (Epra) to import petroleum products and also have a transport and storage agreement with KPC for fuels arriving in Kenya.

Munyasya said the government, under International Oil Companies (IOC), authorised Emirates National Oil Company, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, and Aramco as the sole suppliers of oil to Kenya.

He said the IOC, under the government-to-government arrangement, have nominated Gulf Energy Ltd, Galana Energies, and Oryx Energies as their counterparts to import petroleum products into Kenya.

He said Aramco nominated them to supply automotive gas Oil (AGO) and they entered into a tripartite agreement with KPC and KCB to finance the consignment.

Munyasya said they chattered MT Haigui from the Hotlen Shipping Ltd partnership which was loaded with 93,460.46 metric tons of AGO at the port of Yaribu Saudi Arabia on September 28.

“The vessel went to Jeddah anchorage on September 28, 2023 for cargo doping and arrived at the port of Mombasa on October 11, 2023.”

He said the diesel imported by Njeri was not one specified by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.

Munyasya said it was not possible for a vessel that loaded at the port of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to have docked in Mombasa within two days.

A close contact of Njeri who spoke to the Sunday Standard said when the ship arrived in the country on October 11, the businesswoman was informed that there was government to government deal was already in place.

“The vessel arrived in the country on October 11, but when Njeri was informed about the government to government deal, she decided to look for another dealer in Uganda,” the contact said.

“The Ugandan dealer agreed and reached out to energy regulators in Kenya so that she can use local facilities to offload but they were denied.”

Lawyer Cliff Ombeta during a presser in Mombasa County on Saturday 11th November 2023, where he said the DCI should release Ann Njeri Njoroge who had imported 100,000 metric tonnes of oil diesel worth Sh17 billion. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

The contact explained that when the Ugandan deal flopped, Njeri started scouting for other dealers from other countries including Somali land and Tanzania.

Njeri was, however, shocked to learn that the vessel was heading to Kipevu where the oil products are usually offloaded. “She was shocked because she had not given authority for the products to be offloaded. Usually, about seven documents are required so that the vessel can offload its cargo,” she said.

“Njeri suspected that someone was using forged documents to offload forcing her to report the matter to the police and which was booked in an OB 21/04/11/2023, at KPA Police Station Mombasa.

“... a resident of Kilifi and Dubai and a business person who imports petroleum products under the company of Ann’s Import and Exports Company Limited. She submits a report that last month on 11/10,/2023, a ship by the name Hagui docked at Mombasa KPA port with a consignment of oil products and was in the process of getting the permit to sell the petroleum products to the government.”

The OB further reads: “She did the process and it was to be due on Monday 6/11/2023 but to her surprise, the complainant has seen the ship at KOT2 ready to deliver the products without her consent.” 

The contact narrated that Njeri was accompanied by police to Kipevu port where the Kenya coast guards and discharge point were requested to find out if all was well with the vessel.

“The guards came back and reported that the offloading had not started but samples from the oil had been collected for testing awaiting the next process of offloading.”

Ownership dispute

“The matter was escalated within the ports authority where Njeri produced her documents after it emerged that another company had claimed ownership of the vessel, at that point the process of offloading was stopped.”

Njeri decided to pursue the matter through a vocal MP who introduced her to a powerful figure in the government.

“When she tried to argue her case before the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum official she was brushed off and told the diesel belongs to another company,” she explained.

The contact said on October 8, Njeri met a lawmaker to strategise how to rescue her oil.

“The MP told her the magnitude of the case was high and required the intervention of a senior DCI officer for further probe.”

The Standard learned that on Thursday, Njeri presented herself at DCI headquarters and her case was handed over to the Director of the Investigations Bureau.

Njeri was questioned until late in the evening when another team claiming to be from the National Intelligence Service arrived and picked her.

“That was on Thursday evening when a group of three claiming to be from the Intelligence Unit picked her for further interrogation, since then, we have not heard anything from her,” the contact said.

David Birech, the Director of Investigations, declined to comment, curtly stating: “I cannot comment on that case.”

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